Flexible hours reform

Helen McGrath, Astle Paterson’s Employment specialist discusses today’s (30th June 2014) changes to flexible working.

From today, 30th June 2014, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working; previously it had been open to parents and carers only.

Helen commented that “flexible working for employees can cover a number of different approaches – including working from home, working part time or compressed hours, working flexitime, annualised or staggered hours or even phasing a retirement of an employee.

Any employee who has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks can make a statutory application for flexible working.   The application must be in writing and the employer must deal with all requests in a reasonable manner (usually within 3 months of receiving the request) – which may include assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the request, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee and, potentially, offering an appeal process.

Whilst an employer can refuse a request for flexible working if they can show a good business reason for doing so there are words of warning for employers which must be taken on board: If you do not handle an employee’s request for flexible working in a reasonable manner, then the employee could take you to an employment tribunal.

Good business reasons can include extra costs will be incurred which will damage the business, the employee’s work cannot be spread out among the other staff, the business cannot recruit anyone else to do the work, quality and performance will be affected or the business will not be able to meet their customer demands.

It is to be noted that an employee can only make one request for flexible working per year.”

Whilst there is no definition of what constitutes handling requests in a reasonable manner, ACAS has released a Code of Practice on the subject (please click here for ACAS’ Handling in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly.)

Please contact Helen McGrath of Astle Paterson (Solicitors in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) on 01283 531366 or by way of email to

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